Observations on the Nebraska Walk for Life

12669570_10208236017968469_7008424536812518296_nYesterday I went to Lincoln for the Nebraska Walk for Life, to stand up for women’s reproductive rights. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but others that had gone in the past said that there are a lot of attendees.

Right when we pulled up, I saw huge bunches of helium filled pink and blue balloons. I messaged a friend and said, “they’re not going to release those, are they?” I was met with the response that they always do to represent the fetus angels. I was immediately disgusted; did they even care how bad for the environment that was? How many birds and turtles are going to choke to death on one of those? How many animals were going to swallow, or be strangled by the ribbons attached to them? It seems odd that at a pro-life event, they would take part in an activity that will potentially kill or harm so many.

We joined some friends who were talking with a police officer who was letting them know where we could stand to protest. Once the street was blocked off and the pro-life crowd flooded into it, we made our way up to the front of the area that the officer had outlined.

The crowd was huge, and was made up of all ages. There were children carrying signs that they were too young to read or understand, young adults huddled in crowds, and one elderly person carried a large Jesus on a cross as they maneuvered around in their wheelchair. I was pleased that there were around fifty people there protesting as well. Being at the front of the pack of protesters, I was directly behind some pro-lifers.

Early on, it became apparent that it was a game for some of the pro-life teenagers to come up and ask us our names or ask for a picture with us. They would then run back to their group of friends, giggling. I’m sure it was only the most badass of them that could muster up the courage.

One man in yellow coat that was directly in front of us had a lot to say, and he spent quite awhile talking to the women I was standing next to. At one point he threw out, “Oh, I suppose you believe scientists, too” as though it were an insult. The woman replied that she is a scientist, and he responded, “of course you are.”

The event began, and they had several local politicians go on and speak about how they are working towards making abortion illegal in Nebraska. The real kicker was when they had Governor Pete Ricketts go on, Governor Ricketts who vowed to kill as many death row inmates as he could before the ban on the death penalty in Nebraska went into effect, Governor Ricketts who put $200,000 of his own money towards putting the death penalty  on the ballot after the legislature overrode his veto on banning the death penalty. But this guy gets to be called pro-life because he’s anti-abortion. I am pleased to say that he got very loud boos from our section. The rest of the crowd ate it up though, not caring even remotely about the hypocrisy that Governor Pete I-Really-Want-To-Kill-Prisoners Ricketts is speaking at a pro-life rally. Yellow Coat commented, “so what? You’re find with murdering babies, but you don’t think that prisoners should be executed?” In which, he’s entirely missing the point that a clump of cells that can’t sustain itself outside of the mother can hardly be considered a life. He also missed every point about bodily autonomy that anyone tried to make to him.

It was around this time that his friend in the green coat turned around, got a couple of inches from my face and said, “I love you. I love you and there’s nothing you can do about it.” I told him that was creepy. He replied, “there’s nothing you can do about it.” I said that it was still creepy. The woman next to him turned around and said that they all love us, because we are children of God. I asked her which god, and she shook her head and said, “oh, I see.”

The keynote speaker was a former director for Planned Parenthood who had “seen the light” and is now the pro-life movement’s poster child. They then released those awful balloons, and when I voiced disgust over it, Yellow Coat just told me that “I didn’t know” that those balloons would end up hurting animals, and that they were symbolic. At one point he also mockingly said, “climate change” to which we were like, “um, yeah… it’s a real thing.”

Then the march began. I went to catch up with the hubs, and as we were walking, he photobombed some pro-lifers. Then he was threatened for the first time that day by the man with the camera, who said, “I’m not like the rest of the people here. I don’t believe in non-violence.” He said he was going to go get a police officer, to which the hubs replied to go ahead (there’s no law against photobombing). We continued with the walk, which ended around 5 or 6 blocks later. At the end of it, people continued to demonstrate outside while some went into a building for what I believe was another speaker. The hubs tried to photobomb another picture, and one man was very rude about it and another asked him politely if he could step out of the picture. The hubs replied that he would since he was polite about it, and wasn’t a dick, which caused the first guy to get up in his face making threats. Lesson learned: photobombing pro-life crowds is an offense worthy of threats of physical violence.

Several of my friends engaged in debates with pro-lifers. I was pretty under the weather and feeling it at this point, so I mostly just watched and took pictures. The pro-lifers had numbers on their side with the crowd, but really fell on the same arguments, that all life is sacred, that pregnancy doesn’t really ruin anyone’s life, and of course, Jesus. Some of them also relied on gaslighting, which really just proved our point more; that they really don’t care about women at all. I can’t tell you how many times I saw one male and a few female protesters be approached by a pro-lifer who would then only speak to the male.

My interactions with people there were interesting. There were people there that are honestly good people and trying to do what they think is right and working to help people. And I get it, at one point I believed that abortion was murder. However, I took the time to learn more about it instead of just believing every headline or thing that was said to me. There were also a lot of people that were just very set on the Biblical teachings about abortion. There were also those that really don’t care about women or women’s rights at all. The last two groups seemed to be the overwhelming majority.

A Facebook acquaintance said that the pro-choice vs. pro-life debate is boring and tired. Like it or not, it’s important; we are talking about bodily autonomy and women’s reproductive rights. I don’t think that I changed one person’s mind yesterday, but I was there, standing up for and supporting reproductive freedom, and so were a lot of other awesome people who I’m proud to know.

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